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Small Cabin Forum / Off-Grid Living / how to achieve prime oil lamp ambiance
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TranquilMan
Member
# Posted: 18 May 2015 13:43
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I got this one at a marine supply store so I guess they are for use on boats. I love brass lamps. We are off the grid so it gives us another light option if the solar power fails.
oil wall lamp
oil wall lamp


pizzadude
Member
# Posted: 23 Sep 2015 22:57
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Tranquilman, nice lamp. Vintage. Doesn't look like it holds much for fuel. But I like it!
Call me crazy but I like the smell of burning kerosene. It suits my place just fine. I often think about how cabins smelled back in the old days when people relied on oil for light. Was a way of life for settlers. I think about the scent of their cabins in the low light hours. Oil burning. Soft orange light. Would it be the same as mine? Can't help but think about it.
Started off burning a kerosene alternative, one that gave off no odor when burned.
Now I prefer kero. Burns the same. Smells great
I know. I'm weird

MtnDon
Member
# Posted: 23 Sep 2015 23:43 - Edited by: MtnDon
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I have kept my mouth shut on this for a long time, but tonight I break my silence. I sort of understand the nostalgic love of the warm glow from a kerosene lamp. But I see lots of downside.

Kerosene isn't cheap and it is a fossil fuel. PV electric and batteries are not cheap either, but many of us have some of it already. Once we have it the electricity is basically free. And we don't create CO2 nor have the potential danger of CO.

Burning kerosene creates toxic fumes just as burning most any fuel creates toxins. Why breath that crap? LED's come in warm shades and many can now be dimmed. There are solar powered all in one lights available.


Two-thirds of adult females with lung cancer in developing nations are non-smokers. However, they have no electricity and use kerosene lamps for lighting. Some health researchers believe breathing kerosene fumes is equivalent to smoking up to 2 packs of cigarettes a day. In these third world countries people are moving away from burning kerosene and are adopting solar powered lights. While some of us do the reverse. Puzzling to me especially when you do some research on potential health effects. The fumes are cumulative, unlike the instant death from CO. Doesn't make sense to me to be tempting fate.

pizzadude
Member
# Posted: 24 Sep 2015 01:34
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Yep. Sure enough MtnDon is right. I googled it.
Kerosene fumes=toxic!

There goes the fun. At least for me.
Thanks for wrecking my life, MtnDon.

Or saving it...
Thanks. Really.

Will look into alternatives, cause I love my oil lamps immensely.

MtnDon
Member
# Posted: 24 Sep 2015 01:41 - Edited by: MtnDon
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Take one apart. Wire up a warm LED. Power with something like a rechargeable lithium-ion cell. I haven't built onemyself, yet, but .... hmmmm, could make an interesting project. Or maybe do a google for LED lamp / lantern conversions first?


As for the odor, you're on your own there. I don't like most scents that are added to things; even make our own bar soap because I don't like most soap scents.

pizzadude
Member
# Posted: 24 Sep 2015 02:03
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LEDs aren't nostalgic like my beloved true wicks.
Not the same.
But I get your point.
Truly I do.

Gary O
Member
# Posted: 24 Sep 2015 02:59 - Edited by: Gary O
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Gotta say, MtD, the 'warm' LED bulbs are the bomb.
Got one at HD (6 buckeroos, btw, for one).
Much mo nicer than the brilliant (blinding) LEDs of yore.
Yessir.

May still sneak in a kerosene sniff on occasion, however.


Just a quick one.

MtnDon
Member
# Posted: 24 Sep 2015 17:49
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FWIW, we do have some oil lamps. One 1920's glass table lamp, an Aladdin table lamp from the 1930's, a regular barn lantern from the 40's and a railroad signal lantern from some undetermined time plus a brass and copper creation I made some 35 years ago. All are empty; just decorative for now. They did work when last fueled up years ago. I do have several gallons of stored fuel for them. But I would likely only fuel them up and use them if I ran all my flashlight batteries down and could not recharge them. I guess they are my last ditch light.

TranquilMan
Member
# Posted: 24 Sep 2015 20:36
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Well MtnDon, hard to argue with your comments. All valid and if it counts, my wife is on your side. And like pizzadude, I get your point. But like Gary O, I may sneak a sniff of kerosene on occasion .. when my wife isn't around.

I do love my LED's. They saved me from having to grow my solar system. But there is no lamp out there as beautiful than an Aladdin and there is nothing finer than sitting outside on the porch with my railway signal lamp flickering away while I strum my guitar, sip some fine scotch and watch the moon. Somehow a battery powered LED (and I've got one) doesn't hold up to some life experiences.

But I do appreciate the comments. It's tough being a romantic, nostalgic guy like me.

Tranquil Man

bldginsp
Member
# Posted: 5 Oct 2015 20:34 - Edited by: bldginsp
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Now, don't forget that oil lamps originally did not burn toxic fossil fuels. In the ancient world they used olive oil, and in the 19th century it was whale oil. I wonder if they would allow just enough whale hunting to satisfy the desire for nostalgic romanticism and ambiance of a bunch of small cabin societal misfits. Probably not.

One other harsh reality to utterly squash the original intent of this otherwise pleasant thread- the mantles used in Aladin mantle lamps and white gas and propane lanterns are made using thorium, a radioactive element. From what I could tell, you only stand a chance of inhaling any significant quantity from the dust that is produced when you change the mantles and they crumble, so be careful with that, do it outside and somewhere where the dust will not get churned up.

I intend to put in an Aladin mantle lamp for occasional use with odorless lamp oil, or whale oil, if I can get my hands on a whale.

Wonder if lard would work?

TranquilMan
Member
# Posted: 5 Oct 2015 23:28
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Thank bldginsp. Now I have something else to worry about. I just noticed that my Aladdin mantle needs changing. I do have some lamps that use paraffin lamp oil. I suppose that's harmful also? Let me know how the lard works.
Maybe I'll strum and sip by the campfire like the cowboys did. Now there is ambience.

Actually, what really bothers me is all the smog in the air form manufacturing things like LED lights and the thought of millions and millions of dead batteries going to the landfill sites. Boy, how to kill a romantic thread like "the ambience of oil lamps".

bldginsp
Member
# Posted: 6 Oct 2015 00:07
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Final nail in the coffin- campfire smoke has been shown to be a serious carcinogen, and people in the world who regularly cook on wood fires are at far greater risk of lung ailments than those that do not.

But, if you just occasionally sit by the fire, strumming a guitar, with a kerosene lantern hung from the porch roof, maybe you have shortened your life a little, but maybe you have also had the time of your life that has made all the time of your life worthwhile, long or short as it may be.

silverwaterlady
Member
# Posted: 6 Oct 2015 12:54
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None of the negativity is going to keep me from using my oil lamps. I use clean burning odorless lamp oil in my cabin with the windows open since we are there during the summer.

There is nothing like the glow from a oil lamp. One of the most enjoyable things we do after dark is sitting in our living room with a few lit lamps and a glass of wine listening to the sounds of nature. Our guests also enjoy this since most of them lived up there before electricity made it to the island. It brings back fond memories.

I don't use kerosene because the odor makes me ill.

SE Ohio
Member
# Posted: 6 Oct 2015 13:48 - Edited by: SE Ohio
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As Bldginsp pointed out, all things in moderation. Life and especially small cabin life are full of risks, and it is up to each of us to understand, manage or avoid risks as we see fit. Some of the most enjoyable things in life are quite dangerous! Gotta live a little. I'll use my kerosene stove to light my cigar after eating a big cheeseburger, but I won't do it every day.

beachman
Member
# Posted: 6 Oct 2015 20:29
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We too have older Alladin lamps that are really great. I agree with the fumes comments but we use them sparingly. They really put out a nice soft light and you can light a cigarette or cigar from the top of the glass flu. Sometimes they can start to flare up if turned too high or not trimmed right. You have to turn them down and let the carbon burn off before turning them back up for light. You can dump a small pinch of salt down the flu which works quickly, but it tends to corrode the unit.

pizzadude
Member
# Posted: 5 Oct 2021 20:57
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6 years later, still enjoying oil lamps
Reading all the comments,, is everyone still around?
Haven't been here in quite a long time. My how the world has changed in 6 years

toyota_mdt_tech
Member
# Posted: 5 Oct 2021 22:00
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Quoting: pizzadude
My how the world has changed in 6 years


Yeah, sure has, crime is now legal, be glad to go back to the good old days when crime was illegal. Hey, good campaign slogan "Make Crime Illegal Again".
I like it.

Fanman
Member
# Posted: 5 Oct 2021 22:23
Reply 


Well, since this thread is resurrected... what if any is the actual difference between a kerosene lamp and an oil lamp? Is there a construction difference or just what fuel you choose to use? When I was a kid we called them all "kerosene lanterns".

I have a few wick type oil lamps in the cabin for when the power goes out as it often does. I'd like to get one or two Aladdin lamps... I have a couple of Coleman lanterns but the aesthetic just isn't the same.

gcrank1
Member
# Posted: 5 Oct 2021 22:49 - Edited by: gcrank1
Reply 


Things have changed, thats for sure, but most certainly not the ambience of an oil lamp
We have our pair of wick table lamps on the ready, same pair we have used in cabin life since 1983.

Aklogcabin
Member
# Posted: 6 Oct 2021 09:24
Reply 


Nice thread. But for me to obtain maximum ombiance I need my beautiful wife around. I use coleman lanterns a lot. And use premium gasoline in them. I also generally have a headlamp on also particularly when reading. But still have kerosene lamps around.
And for me it's just different. Our cabin is remote. I enjoy getting by with no electricity. Even batteries. And having the lanterns hissing away is kinda tranquil too
Cabin light
Cabin light


scott100
Member
# Posted: 8 Oct 2021 21:11
Reply 


We do have an oil lamp on our boat that I think I've only used once. If we were on the grid up here at the cabin, I would keep a supply of flashlights, and likely an oil lamp or 2 around.

Since we rely on our own off-grid solar system, and have plenty of LED lighting, no need for any of that. Our power never shuts down, though we have had to seriously conserve the last week or so. Gotta keep the fridge and beer cold, but don't need no friggin microwave or TV. We've had rain, fog, and mainly overcast skies for 5 of the last 7 days here. And the 2 good ones were only partially sunny, but sunny enough. What a strange wet, warm fall here.

cristy
Member
# Posted: 12 Oct 2021 02:54
Reply 


I'm using a wick with a unique form that produces a beautiful flame and excellent illumination. My flames have a "molar" form, as I like to call them. As if it were a sizeable yellow tooth. I use scissors (or whatever works) to cut the wick across as straight as possible, then very gently clip off the ends of the edges of the wick

gcrank1
Member
# Posted: 12 Oct 2021 10:22
Reply 


We used to do that too when we ran the lamps a lot. I had plenty of time to learn how to trim our wicks to get max light. Putting a 1'x2'ish wall mirror behind really helped but so can a polished cookie tray.
It is surprising how much heat 1/2 doz. oil/kero lamps throw off to cut the chill.

TranquilMan
Member
# Posted: 24 Oct 2021 23:04
Reply 


I can't believe it has been 6 years since I've been on this thread. So happy to see it is still going. I just shut down our place off-grid last week and pulled the boat. I still really love my oil lamps, not having line power, TV and noisy neighbours. Nothing like a quiet evening, the glow of a lamp, my guitar and a glass of fine scotch.
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